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News Opinion Readers Respond

New school discipline policy will put teachers at risk [Letter]

Kudos to your reporters for exposing reality as it exists in many schoolhouses ("Painful lessons: Run-ins with students take toll on teachers, city finances," Feb. 16).

I realize this expose is part of a long range look into workman's compensation, but to many readers the revelations are like Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle about the meatpacking industry, where the author famously said, "I aimed at their hearts, but hit their stomachs instead."

The riotous conditions existing in many classrooms have been hushed for years. The new state school discipline policy complains of a "school to prison pipeline" for black male, students but I note that of 293 Baltimore City teacher workman's compensation claims for assaults or altercations, "only eight [students] were referred for criminal charges." Imagine the numbers of teachers not putting in compensation claims who broke up fights or received verbal and physical abuse and threats which resulted in no disciplinary action from principals more concerned with suspension figures than classroom atmosphere.

The new state discipline policy claims that part of the problem is a system that suspends more black males than white males for the same offense. This in laughable since pressure exists to lower suspensions especially for minority and special educations students.

It's high time to start paying heed to the decision makers at the state and local school board level. They now want to examine pre-kindergarten suspensions. What they need to consider is whether some children are ready for school and of even more importance, whether some parents should have their children removed before the damage is done.

David O'Neill, Princess Anne

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